Chinotto and Exciting News

Here’s the quick version of my biggest winemaking triumph to date:

I brought bottle of my cidrata (limoncello made from citrons) to Darrell Corti on Saturday, because he’s been giving me advice about things to make and so I’ve been bringing him things I make to get his feedback.

He appreciated it and said he would bringing it to an orthodox easter dinner on Sunday. He also asked if I had seen Bob Sylva’s article about limoncello in the Sacramento Bee. He said I should send a sample of my limoncello to the Bee (note to self: do this!), and that he would get “Sylva” to interview me.

I mentioned during our conversation that I was making some meyer lemon wine. He asked how I was making it, and I told him. He said he’d be interested in tasting it.

He then told me about chinotto, which is a type of orange that’s pretty bitter and is only used to make some candy and a soda that people in parts of Italy like to drink before dinner.

He said that I should come back on Monday (yesterday) and he would bring in some of the fruit from his tree. In the meantime, he recommended that I get this soda. Interesting stuff.

I went home after this and bottled the lemon wine. It’s actually pretty nice.

Monday, I went to Corti Bros and tracked down Darrell. He said that he liked my limoncello better and that the cidratta separated (alcohol from the fruit, I guess). I asked if he knew why and he said no, then he repeated that the limoncello I had brought him several weeks earlier was very good.

I had brought along a split of the of the Meyer lemon wine and gave that to him. Darrell had forgotten to bring in the chinotti (he said to come back tuesday), but he looked at the bottle of wine and seemed impressed. THEN, he put it on his desk and said that he would put it in the tasting on Thursday.

Tastings at Corti Brothers are legendary. I’m sure there are thousands of winemakers who would give anything to have their wine in a Corti Brothers tasting. This is a very big deal! Even though I know that mine is just going to be curiousity at a tasting of over 100 great wines that are all competing to be carried at the store, I’m still extremely excited.

I went back today and told the person in the wine department that Darrell was going to leave something for me. He said “citrus?” and handed me a pretty big bag of chinotti…maybe 25 of them. They look like tiny dry oranges and taste bitter.

It’s pretty clear to me that I’ve been given a challenge. I brought them home and juiced and zested them and put it all in the freezer until I get back from L.A. this weekend and can think about what to make.

In the meantime, I’m not going to be able to sleep until I hear about what happens at the tasting Thursday.